The revolution will not be televised, because companies like Pepsi are too busy trying to cash in on the callings of the resistance. If the notion never came to mind, then look towards the company’s newest ad released Tuesday (Apr. 4) featuring Kendall Jenner and a lot of misdirection.
Carried out by the company’s in-house content hub Creators League Studio, the commercial includes young people taking to the streets and inspiring a photographer (who happens to be wearing a hijab), an Asian cello player and supermodel Kendall to do the same. The painfully tone deaf video attempts to showcase the importance of resistance in a Trump-led era, but does rather the opposite, proving anything is marketable— even the social injustices African-Americans, Latinx and the LGBTQ community face.
The ad has been removed from the company’s YouTube page, but red flags were abundantly clear such as:
1. The assumed Muslim girl acting as a photographer when Muslim women like Linda Sarsaour helped drive nearly a million women to the Women’s March in Washington D.C. in January.
2. The inoffensive “political” signs that seem to include marketable lingo that screams “all lives matter.”
3. Kendall takes off her wig and tosses it at the black stylist. What the what?
4. The underlying love story between Kendall and the handsome musician is a quite a reach.
5. Black people yet again are seen as the “cool kids” at the march as they dance and give a fist bump to Kendall for becoming an ally.
6. The video is ironically similar to Chemical Brothers’ 1999 single “Out of Control,” which stars Rosario Dawson as a Mexican revolutionary promoting the faux drink, Viva Cola.
7. After getting off her high horse photoshoot, Kendall is believed to be our “white savior,” erasing the idea of diversity altogether.
8. Apparently, Pepsi didn’t learn from Coca-Cola’s ad in the 70’s that exploited the “flower power” movement—and stance against the Vietnam War— for their carbonated soda.
9. The shot of Kendall walking towards the police officer seems to mock Ieshia Evans’ powerful stance against officers in Baton Rogue after the death of Alton Sterling. It also looks similar to an image shared on social media of a young child trying to share water with police wearing riot gear during the protests in Baltimore for Freddie Gray.
10. The use of “Lions,” an ode to the resistance by Skip Marley is another flub, given that his grandfather Bob Marley had strong feelings toward capitalism. The lyrics to Lion are far from the cookie cutter message the ad portrays.
The company has since released two statements about the ad. “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey,” while the other to Teen Vogue reads, “The creative showcases a moment of unity, and a point where multiple storylines converge in the final advert. It depicts various groups of people embracing a spontaneous moment, and showcasing Pepsi’s brand rallying cry to ‘Live For Now,’ in an exploration of what that truly means to live life unbounded, unfiltered and uninhibited.”
“Successful marketing campaigns have the power to add millions to the value of a brand. However, ill-conceived campaigns equally have the power to significantly erode hard-earned brand equity. Pepsi, which already had a difficult 2016 with its brand value dropping by 4% to $18.3 billion dollars, could face further losses in the value and strength of its brand as a result of this ad. Companies are right to push the boundaries and take risks when it comes to marketing products, but this proves that fallout from a single video can have a very damaging effect.”
Back to drawing board, guys.